The burgeoning threat from the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) has resulted in new and proposed laws along with procedures and heightened security measures being enacted in Great Britain and Australia. It is being reported that Canada’s security complex may soon be getting some additional capabilities after raising concerns, that they were denied the ability to spy on Canadians suspected to have joined terrorist and extremist causes abroad. Proposed legal amendments will allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to expand its surveillance powers and share information with allies, which we assume refers to the “Five Eyes” (Canada, United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand).
Observers say amendments will have to be carefully crafted given that Parliament’s authority goes only as far as the borders. Most countries pass laws to cover their domestic spy agencies, but few related to foreign-focused espionage.
Yet the explosion of Internet and spying technologies now allows intelligence operatives in Ottawa to monitor international communications, a practice that blurs the lines between foreign and domestic surveillance.
Just as police need warrants to conduct searches, CSIS must get permission from judges to spy on people in Canada. In 2009, Federal Judge Richard Mosley granted the first warrant for the agency to track Canadian terrorism suspects abroad.
It will be interesting to see how this issue is debated within the Canadian parliament.